Week 7 Gold Stars: Utes claim top 2 spots after big win over USC
Welcome to the Week 7 edition of Gold Stars, my weekly look at the Pac-12’s best individual performers.
We’ll keep a running track of the Gold Stars of the Week, all leading up to the Gold Stars of the Year column in December. It’s exactly like the Heisman Trophy, only there’s no ceremony, no trophy, and no one puts this on their résumé. As a note: 1st-place finishers get 3 gold stars, 2nd-place get 2 and 3rd-place gets 1.
Also, I’m on the voting committee for Pac-12 weekly awards, and I’ll include my ballot below Gold Stars.
Here are the previous Gold Stars: Week 6; Week 5; Week 4; Week 3; Week 2; Week 1
|Michael Penix Jr.||Washington||Quarterback||6|
|Daiyan Henley||Washington State||Linebacker||3|
|Jacob Cowing||Arizona||Wide Receiver||3|
|Jaydn Ott||Cal||Running Back||3|
|Zach Charbonnet||UCLA||Running Back||2|
|Kitan Oladapo||Oregon State||Safety||2|
|Dalton Kincaid||Utah||Tight End||2|
|Jordan Addison||USC||Wide Receiver||1|
|Jayden de Laura||Arizona||Quarterback||1|
|Tuli Tuipulotu||USC||Defensive Lineman||1|
|Ja'Lynn Polk||Washington||Wide Receiver||1|
On to the Gold Stars of Week 7 …
1. Utah QB Cam Rising (3 stars)
Before Saturday, Rising, the defending all-Pac-12 first-team selection from a year ago, had not quite lived up to the lofty standard he set a year ago. Rising wasn’t bad by any stretch, but in losses at Florida and UCLA, he certainly wasn’t good. And in 4 other starts, all wins, he averaged under 250 yards.
Those awaiting a breakout performance out of Rising got it on Saturday, in a big way.
Rising was downright nasty in a 43-42 win over No. 7 USC, showing accuracy when he threw the ball, swagger when he ran it and efficiency in both. Rising completed 30-of-44 passes for a career-high 415 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran for another 60 yards and 3 touchdowns. Against the Trojans’ terrific defensive line, he was not sacked once. Coming into the game, USC led the country in sacks with 24.
It wasn’t just Rising’s incredible numbers. He showed up when it mattered. His touchdown run and ensuing 2-point conversion run brought the Utes all the way back from an early deficit and he won the duel with Caleb Williams.
2. Utah TE Dalton Kincaid (2 stars)
We’ve got a Mahomes-Kelce situation going on here. The primary benefactor of Rising’s huge day, it’s hard to tell if it was Kincaid’s carving of the USC defense or Rising putting the ball on the money that gave Utah the edge on the Trojans.
One thing is not up for debate: Kincaid put up absolutely absurd numbers.
The Utes No. 2 tight end coming into the season, but only because of the return of one of the country’s top players at the position in Brant Kuithe, Kincaid had easily his best game since taking on primary duties with Kuithe out for the year. Kincaid had 16 grabs for 234 yards and a score, finding himself open just about every time he went out for a route.
That kind of production out of a tight end is almost unheard of. And it might have played Kincaid right into the first round.
Oh my god Dalton Kincaid 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/c9KbRsEWAj
— Cam Mellor (@CamMellor) October 16, 2022
3. Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (1 star)
Penix has been terrific for the Huskies nearly all season, but he took his game to a new level on Saturday in a 49-39 win over Arizona.
A week after his one true stinker of the season — a 33-of-53, 311-yard, 0-touchdown, 1-interception performance in a surprising 45-38 loss at Arizona State — Penix torched the Wildcats in one of the best performances by a Pac-12 quarterback in years.
Penix went 36-of-44 passing (season-high 81.8 percent) for a Washington-record 516 yards and 4 touchdowns with zero interceptions. His passer rating was outstanding (210.3) and he even added a rushing touchdown.
Had this happened against a better defense, Penix would’ve been No. 1 with a bullet.
My Pac-12 Weekly Awards ballot:
Defensive Line POW: Washington Edge Jeremiah Martin
Martin had 9 tackles and 2 sacks in a big win over Arizona, just two days after his son was born. The Huskies had 4 sacks against the Wildcats, who had allowed just 8 all year.
Defensive POW: Colorado LB Josh Chandler-Semedo
Colorado hasn’t had many standout individual performances this season, but Josh Chandler-Semedo stepped up on Saturday in a big way for the Buffaloes in their first win of the season over Cal. Chandler-Semedo had 9 tackles, including 3.5 for loss with a sack as Colorado held the Bears to just one touchdown in a 20-13 win.
Honorable mentions: Stanford S Jonathan McGill, Oregon State S Jaydon Grant, Utah S RJ Hubert
Freshman POW: Arizona WR Tetairoa McMillan
The Wildcats’ top recruit ever, McMillan has been coming along well in recent weeks; his 132 yards and 2 touchdowns kept Arizona within striking distance in a 49-39 loss at Arizona.
Offensive Line POW: Utah LT Braeden Daniels
Daniels helped the Utes post one of their most impressive offensive performances in years. Utah piled up 562 yards against USC, averaging 7.4 yards per play, and allowed zero sacks and just 1 tackle for loss.
Offensive POW: Utah QB Cam Rising
Rising did not just play the game of his life, he had the best performance by a Utes quarterback in nearly two decades. No Utah QB had thrown for 400 yards since Brian Johnson in 2005.
Honorable mentions: Washington QB Michael Penix, Jr., Arizona QB Jayden de Laura, Utah TE Dalton Kincaid
No. 20 @Utah_Football erases 14-0 deficit to down No. 7 USC at home
– Cam Rising exploded with 475 total yards and 5TD
– Dalton Kincaid broke every Utes TE record with 16rec, 234 yards TD
– Pac-12 repeat hopes still very much alive in SLC
— Porter Larsen (@Larsen_ESPN) October 16, 2022
Special Teams POW: Stanford K Joshua Karty
Karty hit all 3 field goal attempts to help the Cardinal win in South Bend for just the 5th time. Karty remains perfect this year, hitting all 7 of his field goal attempts and all 17 PAT attempts.